The Kacheek Club: An Anniversary Adventure - Part One
"Thanks again for helping me clean out the attic," Gwen the Island Kacheek told her friends as she swung her feather duster at a cobweb. She and her three friends - Bridgette the Faerie Kacheek, Xana the Disco Kacheek, and Sarina the Cloud Kacheek - were cleaning out the attic at the top of Gwen's Neohome. They all had to duck whenever they stood up, otherwise their heads would bump into the ceiling of the roof.
"No probs. I think cleaning is fun." Bridgette smiled sweetly. She was sitting on a stack of cardboard boxes, watching from her makeshift throne as her friends scuttered this way and that.
"It'll be even more fun once you pick up a feather duster and start helping," replied Xana, pushing open the lid of a Striped Toy Box. Inside were piles of old plushies and discarded Usuki dolls.
Bridgette rolled her eyes and turned away from Xana. On her other side, a Cloud Kacheek sporting a dusty pair of Novelty Glasses grinned and waved at her.
"Ack!" Bridgette jerked back and fell off the cardboard boxes. "Sarina, don't do that! You know my hair is naturally fragile!" She frowned as she tried to adjust her Flower Hair Bow without a mirror.
Sarina pulled off the glasses and snickered. "Sorry, I forgot."
"Hey, guys, look!" Gwen pulled a purple picture frame from out of a wooden trunk. "It's... us!"
Bridgette, Xana, and Sarina raced forward and took a look at the photograph in the picture frame. Gwen was to the left of the photograph, blowing a huge pink bubble from her gum. Bridgette was grinning widely, her two front teeth missing. Sarina held a bubbling cup of her homemade hot chocolate in her paws, and Xana wore green glasses that were five times larger than her eyes.
Bridgette shuddered as she looked at herself in the picture. "When was this taken?" she asked.
"Hmmm, I think it was the night that we started working together," Xana muttered, examining the photograph.
Sarina popped up from nowhere, this time with a fake bushy mustache attached to her face. "Oh yeah, I remember! It all started that day when Bridgette moved here from Faerieland."
Gwen, Bridgette, Xana, and Sarina exchanged smiles as they rewound back to their first real adventure together...
A seven-year-old Gwen stared out the window of her bedroom, watching as dozens and dozens of Neopets unloaded furniture from the wagon parked outside the Neohome next door. Based on the fact that over half of the furniture being unpacked had wings and were made out of clouds, Gwen concluded that the newcomers were from Faerieland. She shuffled away from the window and popped another piece of Air Faerie Gum into her mouth. Her latest food fad was bubble gum; her old one, which was lollypops, had quickly ended after she fell asleep and accidentally got the sticky lollypop stuck in her fur. The Island Kacheek knew that it was a matter of days before the rest of her classmates copied off of her current food fad, and she would have to find a new one. Being liked - and even admired - by the entire class obviously had its ups and downs.
Gwen hurried downstairs and found her mom standing in the kitchen. In her mom's right arm was a small Pink Kacheek (Gwen's little sister, Gretta), and in her left was a Nova Sponge Cake. "Mom, did you know that we have new neighbors?" asked Gwen.
"Yes, dear. Actually, I was headed over there now to deliver this cake. Would you like to come?" asked her mom. "I heard that they have a daughter that is just about your age, and she's even enrolled in the same Neoschool as you. You two might become close friends."
Gwen groaned and resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Mom, please. You said the exact same thing when Xana and Sarina moved into the houses down the street. And now we hardly talk to each other at Neoschool."
Gwen's mom looked at her skeptically. "Why not?"
"Well, all Xana's obsessed with is Neoschool," explained Gwen. "And Sarina is just plain... strange."
"Gwen, at least try to behave when we go meet the new neighbors," said her mom. "I'm sure that things will be different."
Gwen sighed and finally said, "Okay, I'll go."
"Hi, I'm Gwen. Nice to meet you."
The Faerie Kacheek standing in front of her slowly closed the Star Compact Mirror in her paws and turned towards Gwen. "Hey, I'm Bridgette."
The first thing that Gwen noticed about Bridgette was her smile. The Kacheek's two front teeth were missing, leaving a huge gap in her mouth.
"So, uh, I guess things are pretty different here in Neopia Central than Faerieland, huh?" asked Gwen, chewing her gum as she spoke.
Bridgette shrugged. "I wouldn't know. I only got here an hour ago."
"You're right." Gwen forced herself to smile. "Neopia Central is exactly the same as Faerieland, only you don't have to worry about falling down 10,000 feet if you accidentally slip off the cloud." She giggled at her own joke.
Bridgette glared at her. "Actually, I wouldn't have to 'worry' at all. I have wings." She flapped the yellow-and-orange faerie wings that sprouted out of her back.
Gwen narrowed her eyes at Bridgette's hostility. "And I won't have to feel nervous tomorrow at Neoschool, because it won't be my first day."
The two Kacheeks continued to glare at each other until Gwen's mom walked over. "Girls, we're going inside to have some Nova Sponge Cake."
Gwen groaned quietly as she trudged inside Bridgette's Neohome. It was going to be a long day.
Gwen looked up when she heard someone drop their books on the desk next to her. It was Sarina the Cloud Kacheek.
"Hey, Gwen!" Sarina smiled brightly at her.
Gwen pretended to be too preoccupied with combing her Earth Faerie Usuki Doll's hair to respond to Sarina's greeting.
Sarina's sunny mood wasn't dampened one bit by Gwen's unfriendliness. Instead, the Cloud Kacheek looked around the room before leaning in as if to tell Gwen a secret. "So, did you meet the new neighbors yet?" Sarina asked in a hushed voice.
Gwen wrinkled her nose slightly. She could smell the Mustard Mayhem Grarrl Gobstopper that Sarina had just popped into her mouth. "Yep."
"I didn't get a chance to meet them because I was too busy making my own homemade hot chocolate," responded Sarina. "My mom helped me melt chocolate in a frying pan over the stove."
"Uh, you do know that hot chocolate isn't made out of melted chocolate, right?" Gwen asked her. "It's made out of cocoa powder and hot water."
"Oh." Sarina looked dumbfounded. "So does that mean that I didn't need to buy the Zeenana, Quadruple Fudge Cheese, or Frosty Hair Gel?"
"Uhhh..." Gwen shifted around in her chair uncomfortably. She sighed in relief as Sandra the Pink Kougra and Addie the Speckled Blumaroo sat down in the seats behind her and Sarina. "You know, I think this area is starting to get a little crowded. I'm gonna move to the other side of the classroom," said Gwen, quickly shoving her Usuki doll inside her Air Faerie Backpack and making a run for one of the empty desks across the room.
Once Gwen got settled in her new desk, she noticed Xana the Disco Kacheek standing in front of the classroom, excitedly displaying what looked like bags of colored mush in her paws to the swarm of pets around her.
"So, as you can see, the Tchea Marshmallow Grundo exploded faster than the Kacheep when exposed to the heat of my mom's Tooth Faerie Oven," Gwen heard Xana exclaim as she continued to showcase the burnt marshmallows.
Gwen rolled her eyes. It was just like Xana to do a science project for no reason whatsoever.
"Phew, you were so right, Gwen. These seats are much better than the ones at the other side of the room," came a voice from behind the Kacheek.
Gwen recognized the chirpy voice instantly as Sarina's and resisted the urge to groan.
"I mean, the desks on this side of the classroom are right next to the windows, which means you can sit in the sunshine," Sarina continued to chat happily.
Gwen put her paws over her ears and squeezed her eyes shut. When she opened them, she noticed that their teacher, Ms. Julie the Striped Gelert, had entered the room with a certain Faerie Kacheek in pursuit.
Gwen had assumed that Bridgette had probably been tossing and turning in bed yesterday, consumed with worry about her first day of school. But now, looking at the Faerie Kacheek, Gwen didn't even see as little as a dark circle underneath the girl's eyes. Bridgette didn't look the least bit nervous as Ms. Julie handed her a stack of new schoolbooks. In fact, the Kacheek was oozing pure confidence, as if she had been in the classroom for years and counting.
"This should be interesting," muttered Gwen under her breath.
"What should be interesting?" asked Sarina curiously. She looked up and gasped once she saw Bridgette. "Oooh, I had no idea that she would be in the same class as us! I wonder if she'll remember me from the neighborhood." The Cloud Kacheek quietly mused for a couple of seconds before speaking again. "Wait, never mind. I forgot she hasn't met me yet."
To be continued...
Happy 450th issue to all NT authors, aspiring writers, and readers!